Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wanek






Professor at the Division of Terrestrial Ecosystem Research

☎ +43 1 4277 91262


Wolfgang Wanek’s group focuses on the linkage between plant and microbial functioning and terrestrial ecosystem processes. Wanek has long-standing expertise in applying stable isotopes to unravel the role of plants and soil microbes and their interaction in controlling ecosystem processes, from the local to the continental scale.

Research in Wolfgang’s group centres on the biogeochemistry of grasslands and forests in tropical and temperate biomes, with a focus on carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus (sulfur) cycling in the soil-plant-microbe system. Applying ecophysiological, metabolomics and isotope methods, as well as physicochemical characterization of the respective environments, his group seeks to understand biological and abiotic controls, how ecosystems respond to current and future global change, and how this feeds back on the functioning of ecosystems. His group has pioneered the development of an array of stable isotope-based methods to enable the quantification of gross element cycling processes that previously could not be measured.


To explore Wolfgang's teaching activities at the University of Vienna, visit u:find.

Join the Team

If you are interested in joining our team, explore our open positions and learn more about available PhD and postdoc stipends here.

Ongoing Research Projects


If all microbial life disappeared from Earth, our world would change dramatically. Microorganisms are essential for nutrient recycling, decomposing...


Terrestrial microbial decomposer communities thrive on a wide range of organic matter types that rarely ever meet their elemental demands in terms of...


Tropical forests are centers of global biodiversity and integral parts of the global water and biogeochemical cycles. They play a key role in global...


Soil organic matter (SOM) represents a vast store of carbon, exceeding that of the atmosphere by at least 3-fold. Global change effects on the...


Nitrogen (N) availability in soils exerts a strong control on the terrestrial carbon (C) cycle, through effects on plant production and on microbial...

Selected Publications

  • A. Schindlbacher, J. Schnecker, M. Takriti, W. Borken, W. Wanek (2015) Microbial physiology and soil CO2 efflux after 9 years of soil warming in a temperate forest – no indications for thermal adaptation. Global Change Biology 21, 4265–4277.
  • PG. Taylor, GP. Asner, K. Dahlin, C. Anderson, DE. Knapp, RE. Martin, J. Mascaro, R. Chazdon, R. Cole, W. Wanek, F. Hofhansl, A. Townsend (2015) Landscape-scale controls on aboveground forest carbon stocks on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. PlosONE 10(6): e0126748
  • S. Zechmeister-Boltenstern, KM. Keiblinger, M. Mooshammer, J. Penuelas, A. Richter, J. Sardans, W. Wanek (2015) The application of ecological stoichiometry to plant-microbial-soil organic matter transformations. Ecological Monographs 85: 133-155.
  • F. Hofhansl, J. Schnecker, G. Singer, W. Wanek (2015) New insights into mechanisms driving carbon allocation in tropical rainforests. New Phytologist 205: 137–146.
  • F. Hofhansl, J. Kobler, J. Ofner, S. Drage, EM. Pölz, W. Wanek (2014) Sensitivity of tropical forest aboveground productivity to climate anomalies in SW Costa Rica. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 28: 1437-1454.
  • M. Mooshammer, W. Wanek, I. Hämmerle, L. Fuchslueger, F. Hofhansl, A. Knoltsch, J. Schnecker, M. Takriti, M. Watzka, B. Wild, K. M. Keiblinger, S. Zechmeister-Boltenstern, A. Richter (2014) Adjustment of microbial nitrogen use efficiency to carbon:nitrogen imbalances regulates soil N cycling. Nature Communications 5: article no 3694.
  • M. Mooshammer, W. Wanek, Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern, A. Richter (2014) Stoichiometric imbalances between terrestrial decomposer communities and their resources: mechanisms and implications of microbial adaptations to their resources. Frontiers in Microbiology 5: article 22.
  • R.J.W. Brienen, P. Hietz, W. Wanek, M. Gloor (2013) Oxygen isotopes in tree rings record variation in precipitation 18O and amount effects in the south of Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences 118: 1604-1615.
  • P. Hietz, B.L. Turner, W. Wanek, A. Richter, C.A. Nock, S.J. Wright (2011) Pervasive change in the nitrogen cycle in tropical forests. Science 334, 664-666.


Ibraim, E., Denk, T., Wolf, B., Barthel, M., Gasche, R., Wanek, W., Zhang, S., Kiese, R., Butterbach-Bahl, K., Eggleston, S., Emmenegger, L., Six, J., & Mohn, J. (2020). Denitrification Is the Main Nitrous Oxide Source Process in Grassland Soils According to Quasi-Continuous Isotopocule Analysis and Biogeochemical Modeling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 34(6), [e2019GB006505]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GB006505

Hofhansl, F., Chacon-Madrigal, E., Fuchslueger, L., Jenking, D., Morera-Beita, A., Plutzar, C., Silla, F., Andersen, K. M., Buchs, D. M., Dullinger, S., Fiedler, K., Franklin, O., Hietz, P., Huber, W., Quesada, C. A., Rammig, A., Schrodt, F., Vincent, A. G., Weissenhofer, A., & Wanek, W. (2020). Climatic and edaphic controls over tropical forest diversity and vegetation carbon storage. Scientific Reports, 10(1), [5066]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61868-5